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Synthesis

'Proficiency' Is A Better Word

August 10, 2009 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 87, ISSUE 32

In "Enzymes' Many Movements," several references are made to an enzyme's catalytic "efficiency" (C&EN, April 27, page 34). If you think about it, that doesn't make sense, since efficiency is a measure of output divided by input. Most enzymes take all the substrate given to them and convert it to product (with some interesting exceptions). So, enzymes are all about 100% "efficient."

It might be better to refer to an enzyme's "proficiency," to express the power of an enzyme to accelerate the rate of a reaction by many tens of orders of magnitude, which I have seen used before. Maybe there is an even better way I haven't thought of.

Martin Haber
Silver Spring, Md.

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